Tag Archives: Saskatchewan Roughriders

This and that…

  1. The antibiotics are beating back the infection in my right leg.  A week ago the infection had encircled the leg and covered about 80% of the lower leg.  Now the circle is broken and it is about 20% of the leg.  Remarkably if the dog brushes up on it, a kid hits it, or if anything falls on it, it still falls on the painful part of the leg.
  2. A lot of you have asked what the doctors are doing about it.  The don’t really know why it the infection keeps reoccuring.  About 10 times now I have been declared cured and within days of having absolutely no trace of it for weeks, it comes back when I come off the antibiotics.  Each time it comes back with more force, faster, and harsher and I get way sicker in the process.   In all of the opinions I have gotten, the doctors keep telling me that this isn’t supposed to happen. 
  3. I still feel like death.  There is a feeling that the infection has done long term damage to my body, especially the last time.  Mentally I feel better.  The fever takes a weird mental toll on you in that it is exhausting to be either freezing and trying to get warm or burning up and trying to break the fever and stay hydrated.   It’s all I was thinking of for several days.  Despite staying in bed, I was exhausted and not sleeping.  I was too tired to even read anything.
  4. I try not to get angry or frustrated over it but I had some choice words for a doctor who was reminding me that my core fitness needed improvement.  Umm, i have been told to stay off my feet for 14 months now, I barely go out and of course my fitness is going to suck. 
  5. I was going to take this week off my StarPhoenix column to recover as I had nothing left in the tank but I read a great Sports Illustrated column on this years NCAA football season and how he had predicted how Ohio State would be an offensive juggernaut.  It made me think back to all of the predictions that made so much sense in the pre-season of any sport and how few played out that way.  I had some fun predictions for 2016 provincially, municipally and for the Riders.  Prediction columns are fun, where else can I talk about Eric Olauson and Bill Belichick in the same space?
  6. A lot of you know that I have a passion for word processors.  With a new Acer E-11 Netbook for Christmas, I am trying out a few right now.  I just installed Corel Office which is a slimmed down version of WordPerfect, Quattro Pro and whatever they use for presentations and I am trying a full blown version of WordPerfect X7.  I’ll let you know how it goes.
  7. Speaking of word processors, with my beloved Windowns Live Writer being discontinued by Microsoft, there is a new open source version called Open Live Writer.  Microsoft has allowed some of their code to be open source (this is a big deal) and it is being developed and upgraded by a team of developers.  The biggest difference is that Open Live Writer is compatible once again with Blogger.
  8. I wish someone would tell Jeb Bush that it is time to pull the plug on his campaign.  It’s over Jeb.
  9. The lack of star NDP candidates for the upcoming provincial election tells me that the NDP knows that it isn’t going to win.  Two relative unknowns in Saskatoon Fairview and Saskatoon Meewasin also tell me the same thing.  Cam Broten may be Premier in 2020 but it seems like the goal is 20 seats (and be a government in waiting in 2016).
  10. Speaking of Saskatoon Meewasin, has there ever been a MLA with a lower profile then Roger Parent.  No website and he even uses a @gmail.com email address on his bilboard ads.   I can’t even find him in Google News (you search for “Roger Parent” and “Saskatoon”, he isn’t there).  He is like the Saskatchewan Liberal Party of the Saskatchewan Party caucus.  I would say this about a New Democrat, Liberal, or Saskatchewan Party MLA but if you are going to do so little work in being a MLA, you don’t deserve to even win a nomination or be elected.
  11. I saw Darren Hill beaking of at Rona Ambrose about this one Twitter but I agree with Rona Ambrose and that is the Liberal Party should have a referendum on changing the way we vote.  Moving from First Past the Post may be the right thing (although I disagree with it) but it is a big of enough change to our democracy that we should have a say in it. 
  12. A couple of things about Brad Wall.  More and more his government reminds me of the Grant Devine regime with it’s dependance on mega-projects to spur the economy.  The stadium in Regina, the Children’s Hospital (which we don’t need nor do we have the population to support) and the carbon capture project.  Huge projects that are costing a recently struggling economy a lot of money.  I might be okay with this but I don’t see a plan from the Saskatchewan Party on how to deal with low commodity prices other than complaining ot the feds (like Grant Devine).  Now with no budget on the horizon before the provincial election and a struggling economy, it gives me an uncomfortable feeling that things are worse than we are being told.  Of course in the end, Brad Wall might not be here much longer and may have his focus on the federal Conservativ leadership race.
  13. I am suprised by the Cleveland Browns inability to acknowledge and get help for Jonny Manziel being an alcoholic and having a drinking problem.    There is a difference between being a party goer and what Manziel is doing.  I am also suprised by Manziel not being able to control his friends cell phone’s.  You don’t think Tom Brady’s friends have cell phones?  Yet you don’t see those kind of videos appearing of him.  In fact with Tom Brady’s Facebook, he has done an amazing job of controlling what people see of him.
  14. This is one of the most damning things I have ever heard someone say of a coach.  Despite that it is what destroyed Josh McDaniels, Bobby Petrino (multiple times) and how many other countless coaches.  Football is a people business and while we talk of the genius of coaches like Belichick with x and o’s, it is their ability to manage and lead men that makes them so impressive.  Not just players but assistant coaches, support staff, and even the guys who take care of the field and bring them all together.  Chip thought it was X and O’s.  He was wrong.
  15. When did Facebook rants become news?  Ryan Meili ran twice for the leadership of the NDP, lost both times and would never run for his party again.  When he runs provincially or federally under someone else’s leadership, I’ll take this more seriously but for now I don’t see this as big news.  I agree that Broten is taking the party to the centre, it’s worked well for the NDP in the past under Romanow and Calvert but it has been a disasterous move for the party federally and provincially elsewhere other than Alberta.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Ford Focus Road Trip: Moose Jaw and Claybank Brick Plant

Ford Focus on Saskatchewan Road TripThis morning, Wendy, Mark, Oliver and I piled into the 2015 Ford Focus.  We tossed my L.L. Bean canvas duffle bag, go bags, and some camera gear in the back and headed south towards Moose Jaw.  The drive was pretty normal until we came to Chamberlain.

For those of you not from Saskatchewan, let me explain Chamberlain to you.  The highway from Prince Albert to Saskatoon is four lanes.  The highway from Saskatoon to Regina is four lanes, except when you go through Chamberlain and then it goes down to two lanes for about three kilometers.  There is absolutely no reason it has to do this but it does and it drops to 60/kph as it goes through town.

Today the speed was 0 kph.  It was at an absolute standstill.  My first thought was that there was an accident on the highway but no, there was a really long convey of about 20 Jays Moving trucks all pulling out of the roadside turnout and they were blocking traffic.  First of all I have no idea why they were blocking traffic and secondly, why was there a need for 20 Jay’s Moving semis to be travelling together in a convey?  It was weird.

We turned east at that point until we got to Keeler, Saskatchewan.  Keeler is home of the Cooper’s and is a town of about 15 people.  My grandparents house (and the post office) had been torn down but the bar I used to hang out when I was six was still there.

The Keeler Hotel in Keeler, Saskatchewan

I am also pretty sure that this was the garage that my grandfather used to run.  It has been moved but it’s still there.    The ball diamonds I used to catch gophers in are still there.  My grandpa’s dog Tip used to hide in the long grass beyond the outfield until a ball came near.  My memories were of a lot of ground rule doubles as Tip took off with the ball.

The Keeler Garage in Keeler, Saskatchewan

From there we drove to Moose Jaw and checked into the Temple Gardens Hotel and Mineral Spa.  Our room is small, not that well maintained and some disturbing looking stains on the carpeting.  We didn’t stay long because we wanted to check out the Claybank Brink Plant.

The Claybank Brick Plant is a National Historic Site about 30 minutes out of Moose Jaw.  I don’t know how to describe it.  The organizing committee says they are $2 million into a $6 million project and I kind of think the $6 million is low.  It’s really dilapidated yet really awesome at the same time.  I totally you recommend you go. 

The website mentioned that Google Maps has the wrong location and it does.  If you can get to Claybank, you can see the plant but getting to Claybank was hard enough with Google Maps.

Google Maps says it’s turn by turn directions are in beta but when my iPhone is plugged into the car and connected to Sync via Bluetooth, it muted the turn by turn directions entirely which is kind of annoying when you are driving.  To make a long story short, I missed my turn and had to go back… where I missed the turn again…  There was good signage and I am old school, I always have a map but I was thinking the bug has to be with the iPhone and Google Maps working together and then being connected to the Ford via Bluetooth.  Hopefully Google fixes it.

When we got to Claybank, I couldn’t help but notice this church steeple off in a distance.

St. Joesph's Parish in Claybank, Saskatchewan

No signs outside but a quick Google search told me it was St. Joesph’s Catholic Church.  It’s obviously been made by bricks from the plant.

So as I am taking this photo, my Google Maps finally starts to talking to and I think was telling me to go in two different directions at once.  Of course it is supposed to learn from correct routes but since we detoured into Claybank to take this photo, I didn’t exactly really help the situation.  Sorry about that.

We finally drove into the plant.  Part of it goes through a farm yard.  I wasn’t totally sure if I was at the right place but I realized, “It’s Canada, if I took the wrong turn, three farmers will politely correct my and then offer to have us over for lunch.”

So the plant is a step back into time.  They say it is essentially unchanged from the way it was in 1914 to 1937 and I believe them.

There are tours that you can take earlier in the summer.  Today we were given a map and sent on our way.  We explored all of it in about an hour and it was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

Here is the Focus with the plant in the background.  It’s a little dusty (both the plant and the car).

2015 Ford Focus at the Claybank Brink Plant

This is the restored bunkhouse.  It is now a gift shop, coffee shop, and where you pay to start the tours.  It was one of the first things to be restored.

The old bunkhouse at Claybank Brick PlantThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, Saskatchewan

This is where the magic started.  The clay was brought here and stored.  It’s the start of the assembly line.The Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, Saskatchewan

While today was hot even for the tour, I can’t imagine what it would be like to work in here.

The Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, Saskatchewan

This is one of the furnaces.The Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, Saskatchewan

These furnaces were all hand laid.  Inside there was no mortar because the bricks would expand so much during heating and contract during cooling.  They would put 70,000 bricks in there and heat them for a week.  Then it would take about another week to cool.  Then a week to unload them.The Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site near Claybank, SaskatchewanThe 2015 Ford Focus at the Claybank Brink Plant National Historic Site

They still are aggressively fundraising.  While our entry ticket helps out, I also plan to make a donation.  It’s a great site and I hope they are successful.

We then headed back to Moose Jaw and parked the car for the night.  We made sure we left it a nice view overlooking downtown Moose Jaw.

IMGP1385

Then we took the boys to the mineral spa. The pool is quite nice and we spent some time up there on the roof top spa today.  Supposedly the waters have the same minerals as the one in Bath, England does.   That being said, I have read that about almost every mineral spa that I have ever looked up online.

For dinner, the plan was to go to Smoke’s Poutinerie but it looks like they were shut down last night.  So that didn’t work out as we had planned.

Instead Wendy and the boys went to Deja Vu, a place that specializes in chicken and milkshakes.  If it sounds familiar, it has been on The Prairie Diner and You Gotta Eat Here! before.  We walk in and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are losing 14-7 when Smith throws a pick that makes it 21-7 for the Blue Bombers.  The place is full of people wearing Rider gear and no a single person reacts.   Not even a single grimace.  We are still fans but we are at the same where we aren’t going to let what happens on the field affect us.  I think this is what Chicago Cubs fans go through.

My thoughts on the 2015 Ford Focus.  They are mostly positive.

  • I love Ford’s 6 speed transmission.  I can’t say enough positive things about it.  It makes the car a joy to drive.
  • It is more than big enough for us for a weekend road trip.  The sedan has more space then the hatchback but even the hatchback would be adequate.
  • There are a lot of drink holders which is nice as you start with a travel mug and then stop for a bottled water or a soda later in the day. .
  • The car is quiet on the highway.  You hear very little road noise.
  • All of the Ford vehicles that I have reviewed have all had the Sony stereo upgrades.  After tweaking the standard Ford stereo for my tastes, the factory Ford stereo is excellent.  The one thing that is frustrating with it is that the user interface is brutal.  For some tasks you have to use the upper buttons while other similar tasks you need the lower ones.  It’s not a deal breaker and you definitely get used to it but it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t need to be annoying.  
  • From the first time I reviewed a Ford car to this time, Sync continues to be tweaked an improved every year.  It’s not a big thing but it is nice to see that Ford’s commitment to quality goes to everything.  The nerd in me would love to see the upgrades in software and processing power that has made this possible.
  • I’d seriously think about buying this car.  It’s not perfect but I like it a lot.  So do a lot of you since it is the best selling car of all time (passing the Toyota Corolla).   The only non-factory upgrades I would get would be the bars on the roof so one could add a rooftop storage container.

Tomorrow we continue south to Ogema where the boys and Wendy will take the Southern Prairie Railway for a ride and then it is back home.  You’ll see more photos and some final thoughts on the Ford Focus tomorrow. 

Some thoughts of the Saskatchewan Roughriders

I missed the game today.  We were out hiking the Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park.  I did hear the train wreck that was the postgame show.

  1. This is a pattern of Brendan Taman.  He takes over a team that makes it to the Grey Cup, won’t challenge or change the roster and within a couple of years the team is old and horrible.  It is what happened in Winnipeg and is what is happening in Regina.  There is a reason why Hugh Campbell turned over 30% of his Edmonton Eskimos roster during his dynasty years.  Time is undefeated and the message that no one is sacred is a powerful one.
  2. I don’t think a CFL team should ever hire a Canadian GM.  The best football in the world collegiately is being played in the SEC and has for years.  I think you need a GM that has strong ties in the SEC or the ACC, like Roy Shivers or Eric Tillman.  It is connection with high school coaches, university position coaches and even junior college coaches who can help you identify you players that aren’t on the national radar but can help your football team.
  3. Speaking of Eric Tillman, is it too soon to consider bringing him back?  I think it is but some will consider it.
  4. While I blame Brendan Taman, a lot of responsibility has to stand with Corey Chamblin.  He seems unable to identify why the Riders are playing horrible and doesn’t know how to fix it.  There have been other coaches that are good when things are going along great but can’t fix things when they run poorly (I think of Mike Singletary) because they are over their head schematically.  Chamblin seems lost and over his head right now.  So does his staff.
  5. Everyone gets on Chamblin for the penalties but I think this is on Taman.  It is the kind of players you get.  If you looked back at the player committing the most penalties, they would have a track record of doing it college and probably high school.  As Jimmy Johnson used to say, “Don’t send me stupid players because you can’t coach stupid players”.  We think talent is everything.  It isn’t.
  6. While the Winnipeg Bluebombers defense isn’t amazing, it is better than the Riders and with probably less talent.  Who is coaching that defense?  A gentlemen name Ritchie Hall, previously defensive coordinator of the Saskatchewan Roughriders… back when they had a strong defense. 
  7. I love the hoardes that get upset when you criticize the Saskatchewan Roughriders as “we are all one team”.  No, not really.  I am not on the team.  I am a fan of the team.  I buy stuff from the Rider store, I cheer for the team but what is going on with that office and that field is solely the domain of the directors, the management, coaches, and players.  I don’t get a Grey Cup ring when they win and I am allowed to criticize the team when they are this bad.
  8. Speaking of bad, Chamblin’s post game interview was horrible when he offered up that there were issues with Brett Smith being benched and not being able to go back in.  Umm, why offer that up if you aren’t going to expand on it.  All it does it create speculation and media attention around you rookie QB and create a distraction when you are entering week 11 and still trying to win a game.  Also,  I was really disgusted by CKRM (I think it was Mitchell Blair but I could be wrong) asking Chamblin if he thought he would be fired.  This is a man’s livelihood we are talking about and how did they really expect him to answer that?  “Yes I think I should be fired”.  If It was Chamblin I would have said, “Thanks but I am done with this interview.”
  9. So what’s next for the Riders?  New stadium coming online in two years.  Do they trust Taman to be able to rebuild the Riders for that season?  From his track record, I don’t think I would.

Happy Birthday Oliver

Oliver turns 7 today which means he was up early opening his birthday gifts and basically celebrating his day.

We picked him up a moon chair.  He thinks it is so awesome that he is worried that we will all be jealous because our chairs aren’t as cool as his.  Not sure he has to be worried but I am glad he likes it.

We had picked up three 1 litre Nalgene water bottles for Wendy, Mark and I.  Oliver was less then thrilled he didn’t get one.  I picked up a 500 ml bottle for him at Atmosphere so now he is thrilled.  We also got him a fanny pack because a) he wanted one b) I will mock him about it for his entire life. 

We also got him an Avenger’s book, a Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey, a hacky sack, and a headlamp.

Tonight, we are off to Pike Lake for a hike and then back for late evening pizza and cake. 

17 years ago today

Wendy and I were married 17 years ago yesterday.  Next year our relationships will reach adulthood.

As anniversaries go it was really boring.  I have only had food poisoning a couple of times in my life and both times it has happened on our anniversary so in this case, non-eventful is good.

This morning we got up and got Mark to Bedford Road so he could get ready to play in the Charity Bowl.  Then it was off to Gordie Howe Bowl to watch him play.

Mark has started all of his games at linebacker this season.  Five minutes before the game he was told he would be playing starting defensive half back and then as he went out he was told to play cornerback.  If you have played football, being told to go out and play a position which you have never even practiced for a second is a recipe for disaster but he performed well and had no passes completed against him and had a couple of tackle.  Bedford won in a blowout so it all worked out well.

This year he has played linebacker, cornerback and defensive line.  Again, the body types required to play defensive line and cornerback are generally exclusive to each position but he held his ground and did well so we are proud of him.  Most importantly, Bedford Road just had their parent-teacher interviews and he is doing well academically.  So far that make Grade 9 a success.

Of course the Charity Bowl is a great Saskatoon tradition and all of the money that was raised today goes to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Saskatoon.

To keep with the football theme today, I gave Wendy a new Saskatchewan Roughrider jersey and got her a new Starbucks mug and some Pineapple tea.  I was nervous about giving her a big thing of pineapple tea since she hates ham and pineapple pizza but as long as she doesn’t pour it on her pizza, she should be okay.  She turned around and got me a Bluetune Bluetooth player which was great.

After meeting Janice Braden for coffee, we had a noisy supper at Alexander’s.  Not sure what was going on but we were the only couple not in suits and without speakers in our ears.  We had planned on going to The Oddcouple but neither of us felt that hungry after a big lunch.

Of course it was about then that my phone started to go off because council had decided to end the transit lockout.  So if I got this right, Saskatoon City Council took 28 days and a failed labour board ruling to get right back to where were a month ago politically after affecting the lives of thousands with no gain.  People lost their jobs, couldn’t get to appointments, businesses were hurt, and families disrupted for absolutely nothing.

Then I was able to watch councillors go on Twitter and say, “We made the right choice”.  Feel free to help me out with this but I can’t find a historical comparison to an elected body that his this clueless.  I want to talk about the Devine governments with Fair Share Saskatchewan and privatizing SaskEnergy but they had an opposition.  Saskatoon City Council did this all by themselves to themselves.  That almost seems like incompetence without precedent.

Winnipeg’s City Council often rivals ours for incompetence but I think Saskatoon has won this contest.  It’s so weird because at least 8 of the 11 of them do their work, show up at meetings, and read their books.  They can ask intelligent questions and for the most part show capable political instincts.  Yet something goes wrong when they go behind closed doors.  

Of course there are all sorts of interesting questions to be asked.  Mainly what is the administrations role in this and who is running the show at City Hall.  Is it the administration or the council.  I have heard several comments from admin and staff who seem to suggest that administration thinks it is running the show in the city and that council is just there to give some advice.  In fact, even the Mayor’s recent comments make me think he thinks that.  So if that is case, this could have happened in a vacuum of a lack of leadership from city council.  Either way, a lot of lives were affected for nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

A new addition for Mosaic Stadium

Can someone tell me why the Saskatchewan Roughriders are not doing this with Gainer the Gopher?

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In case you are wondering, this is from the University of Minnesota Gophers stadium.  I love it.  Here it is on video.

A Minnesota spokesperson told BTN.com that the dramatic gopher video (it’s actually a chipmunk, but whatever) had been ready to go since the Big Ten opener against Iowa, but Saturday was the first time an opponent had tried a field goal facing the video board. The school plans to use it from here on out.

This needs to happen Regina.  Get on it.

Riders next playoff appearance in about 2018

Roughriders name Brendan Taman head of football operations

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have retained Brendan Taman as general manager and expanded his duties to include complete control over the franchise’s football operations.

The Riders announced the front-office moves today during a media conference at Mosaic Stadium. Taman has been with the Riders since 2009, spending the last two years as general manager. Ken Miller was the Riders’ head coach and vice-president of football operations. He resigned from both positions on Oct. 31, creating a void at the top of the Riders’ football operations.

Miller had been in control of the team’s football operations. That meant Taman reported to Miller as the Riders’ general manager. Taman’s previous duties included management of the salary cap and overseeing scouting and player personnel. One of Taman’s first responsibilities will be conducting a search to replace Miller as head coach.

Taman returned to the Roughriders as director of football administration in 2009. Taman, a native of Saskatoon, was promoted to general manager in 2010 after the resignation of Eric Tillman. Miller also assumed the official duties as vice-president of football operations with Tillman’s resignation.

Taman’s past track record doesn’t inspire much confidence in me.  His track record in Winnipeg was poor and he hasn’t shown a lot in Saskatchewan that would change my mind.  I guess we will see.  He can’t do much worse than what Ken Miller did last year.

2011 Year End Awards for the Saskatchewan Roughriders

These are hilarious.

The Alexander Daigle award – Hugh Charles. This award is given to the player that exemplifies a truly high level of skill, speed, and game-breaking ability (in his own mind). Then all of the sudden gives up on plays for no apparent reason. I really enjoyed watching Mr. Charles give up on chasing Keon Raymond, who returned an interception 100 yards for a TD.  Charles could have had him seven times over. It made me want to throw up a little in my mouth, but hey Hugh maybe you and  the tin man will find a heart in Edmonton.

The Weekend In Sports

First the positives:

The negatives

  • Sure it is good to see the Houston Texans get an offense but boy do the Pittsburgh Steelers look old.  It’s early and you don’t want to count the Steelers out but I can’t help but wonder if there won’t be a drastically different looking Steelers roster for next season.
  • Let’s not talk about what happened in Green Bay.  Denver is not a very talented team yet.  Shanahan’s last couple of drafts were horrible and the only decent player that McDaniel’s brought in was Eric Decker.  It’s going to be a while until they are back on top.
  • What can you say about the Saskatchewan Roughriders other than they are not a very good team.  Grandpa coming back gave them a spark but I have been saying since last season that just because Ken Miller was a good assistant coach, it doesn’t make him a good personnel man.  That and I have been terrified of Brendan Taman running the team ever since they brought him in.  Look at what he did to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and how long it took them to recover.
  • Dear Buffalo Bills.  You lost to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Really?  Rookie QB, lame duck coach, apathetic fans and you still lost to them.  You should be ashamed.

Blackberry Curve Build Out

Blackberry Curve 8530 from Koodo MobileOn the 27th I went to Best Buy to take a look at DSLR’s on sale.  I didn’t see any DSLRs but while I was there, I saw that Koodo had dropped their price on Blackberry Curves to $150 and no contract.  I had thought about getting a LG Rumor 2 this year but after looking into it, we decided to get the Curve.  I had been quite happy with Virgin but I have had technical problems with my account for two years and it was getting worse.  While Virgin’s tech support and customer service staff have been really helpful, they still could not fix the problem so I finally decided to make the move.

Blackberry by RIMI took the phone home and started to set it up.  Here is how I put it together.

The first thing I did was get my Curve set up to our wifi connection in the house.  That wasn’t working that well.  Then I realized my router was about a billion years old (it was a 801b router) and it needed an upgrade.  Since my new router was on my desk, it was pretty easy to upgrade.  The Curve, my iPod Touch, and our notebook suddenly worked a lot faster.  I upgraded my old router’s firmware and will give it Computers for Kids and if they don’t want it, it can go to SARCAN.

Here is are the apps that made their way onto it over the last couple of days.

Utilities

Social Networks

  • foursquare app for the BlackberryFoursquare | It doesn’t yet use wifi but it allows you to check in and out all over the place.  It’s one of those apps that doesn’t make sense until you use it and then you love it.
  • Twitter | Umm, it’s one of the main reasons why I upgraded to a Blackberry.
  • Facebook (one the off chance for some reason I need to actually log in sometime… maybe in 2012)
  • Flickr | It’s an uploader that uploads my camera phone shots to Flickr.  It rather annoyingly resizes them but I’ll deal with that later.

News and Sports

Am I missing anything?  Let me know in the comments.

Christmas Around Here

I see that both Wendy and Mark have posted about Christmas so I thought I might as well.  I won’t describe the day as Wendy did a great job of doing that but I will ad in that it was a lot of fun to have friends and family around. 

For my gifts, Wendy and Lee went in and got me a new 32 gb iPod Touch.  My iPod Touch was a first generation one and I was quite excited to see the it finally shipping with both a camera and a video camera in it.  I don’t have a Blackberry or smartphone but this does a good job of letting me both work and play when I need to.  I bought iMovie, and a bunch of 99 cent EA games for it and I am good to go.  Wendy also gave me a massive Rambo type knife.  I am not sure what I will use it for but there is a small first aid and survival kit in the knife handle.  Now that’s a knife.

Wilson CFL footballMaggi gave me a Wilson CFL football.  I have an NFL football but when I am watching the Grey Cup, you really need a bigger ball to toss around.

Oliver gave me a Team Canada Hockey seat cover and steering wheel cover for Hank while Santa brought me a portable external hard drive for my netbook.  I have shot several hours of video for my documentary and I really need more hand drive space if I am going to get it done in 2011 (more on that in a later post).

Lee surprised me with a copy of The Pacific on Blu Ray which made no sense since we don’t have a Blu-Ray player.  Of course then Mark unwrapped a PS3 that had Madden 11 with it.  He also gave me a The Force Unleashed II and gave Mark Call of Duty: World at War.  According to Sony VP Kevin Butler, it only does everything.  As for our PS2, it will be donated to the Centre’s half-way house where I am sure someone will enjoy playing it in the lounge.  He also gave me a new multi-tool set and flashlight.

Speaking of Lee, he was babysitting the boys this summer and Wendy walked in and all three of them were watching Predator.  Seriously, he was letting a ten year old and a 2 year old watch Predator and both of them were a little nervous.  To prove he learned nothing, there was a copy of Predator in Blu-Ray under the tree for Mark and Oliver.  We all had a great laugh over that.

On Christmas Day we went to the Reimers for Christmas dinner.  Reimers gave me a nice set of binoculars for use up at the cabin.  With North America’s oldest bird sanctuary only a couple of miles north of the cabin, there are a lot of birds flying around.  They also gave me Settlers of Catan which sounds like an ideal way to spend an evening with friends.  Kristi helped make my Christmas tree a little more Riderish with some Saskatchewan Roughrider tree ornaments and a calendar of stupid quotes.  I have a whole year of mocking stupid people ahead of me.  The only thing that I didn’t like about the dinner was that Gloria won’t give me the recipe for an amazing green bean casserole she makes.  It’s a family secret I am told.

Shaving brush and soapI am not sure any of that was on my Christmas list but it made for a fun day.  The only two things that were on my MUST HAVE list were a new zippered wallet (I hate it when I drop my wallet and my cards fall out) and a shaving brush and shaving soap which were in my stocking.

Thanks everyone, it’s been a great couple of days.

Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for the Sports Fan | 2010 Edition

Hockey Night in Canada Retro Puck & Stick Rug :: While Gary Bettman doesn’t respect the traditions of the NHL, that doesn’t mean that you can’t. Check out this retro Hockey Night in Canada welcome rug which would look great every Saturday night as you host your friends and family for the Hockey Night in Canada double header. Now if we could only find a way to automatically mute the television whenever Kelly Hrudey comes on.

$39.99 (Can) from CBC Shop

NFL Training Camp for the Wii | Compared to other fitness gaming releases on the Wii, EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp is in a whole other league. Unlike those other games that concentrate on general fitness concepts, EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp focuses on the agility, aerobic, stamina and strength training exercises that NFL players routinely are put through during their pre-season training camps. Developed in collaboration with NFL strength and conditioning coaches, users will experience the thrill of competition while challenging themselves, as well as friends and family in these authentic NFL football drills which are performed in the likeness of user’s favorite NFL players.

Saskatchewan Roughriders Shares | As a Roughrider shareholder, fans will get the opportunity to vote on team leadership, contribute to the team’s long-term viability, and help create a football dynasty owned and operated by its fans. In addition Rider shareholders receive a number of other benefits including discounts on merchandise, preferred seating upgrades, first rights to priority parking and access to special Shareholder events.  Sadly you don’t get a say on the head coach, what kind of defence they run or who is the starting quarterback.

Each shareholder will receive a personalized and numbered share certificate, an owners card, as well as a window decal and bracelet. The limited edition 100th anniversary Series II Rider Share is available for a cost of $250 per share, with an option to have the certificate fully framed for $499.

To own a piece of the pride and become a Rider shareholder, fans can call 1-888-4-RIDERS (474-3377) or visit the Rider Ticket Office at Mosaic Stadium.

Sportscraft Pubmaster Dart Board :: The official size 18-inch dartboard has traditional colors with steel tensile steel spider and high visibility numbers. You can throw either steel or soft tip darts at the bullseye!

Plus with no one really knowing when or if the economy is going to come back, having bunch of friends over for a night of darts is a lot cheaper than a night at the pub or doing much else now that I think of it.  The great thing about darts (and bowling) is that you don’t have to be good at it to have a good time playing it.

If you want to up the anty a bit and hide the dart board from view, check out this dart board cabinet.  This pine cabinet comes with everything you need to start playing. It includes a high quality, self healing dart board, 6 steel tip darts, dry-erase scoreboard, out chart, marker and mounting supplies. It would look great at the cabin.

Wendy gave me this customizable Denver Broncos watch for our 13th anniversary. You can change the watch hands, color of strap, and engrave the back (something like Fire Josh McDaniels might be appropriate).  While this one is sold out right now, you can get a variety of other NFL team watches from NFL Shop ranging from $25.

Men’s Team HeatGear Longsleeve T Tops by Under Armour | If the person you are shopping for actually is athletic, you may want to consider a workout shirt from Under Armour. It’s a versatile multi-sport shirt ideal for training.  It’s popular because the Under Armour Team HeatGear long-sleeve tee will keep you feeling cool and refreshed during your workouts. The shirt is made using HeatGear technology, a superior moisture-management system that moves moisture away from your body to the outer layer of the garment. To keep the shirt smelling fresh over the long term, Under Armour added anti-odor technology, which prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes. Other features include a lightweight micro-pique construction with a generous loose fit, raglan sleeves that allow for total mobility and a full range of motion while eliminating shoulder-seam abrasion points, and a UA logo on the center front chest.

Custom NFL T-Shirt | While a customized NFL jersey may set you back $200, a customizable t-shirt or sweatshirt will cost you as a little as $40 and you can actually wear it out in public.  Customize the front, back and both sleeves of your shirt in any number of ways. From players name and number to a pink breast cancer ribbon.  Anything is possible and available in men’s and women’s version.  I just can’t believe that other leagues aren’t doing this yet.

How many times in the last year have you said, “This room would be perfect with a stained glass Notre Dame plaque on the wall?”  Now for $59.99 you can bring completion to your fan cave with one. It actually would look great in a lot of family rooms, even if you happened to cheer for teams like USC or Alabama. Now of course if you cheered for anyone in the SEC, you probably would not appreciate something like stained glass but sadly they don’t make these things deep fried.

Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns | Here is the story of America s national pastime from master storyteller Ken Burns. It is an eleven DVD epic overflowing with heroes and hopefuls, scoundrels and screwballs. A saga spanning the quest for racial justice, the clash of labor and management, the immigrant experience, the transformation of popular culture, and the enduring appeal of the national pastime. And through it all, baseball remains a mirror of America.

Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan’s Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks | “Professional fan” Hample (How to Snag Major League Baseballs), who falls squarely in the “deeply serious geek” category, has put together an invaluable resource for armchair fans. A former college shortstop, four-time attendee of Bucky Dent’s Baseball School and an obsessive baseball collector, Hample covers basics like what to watch for in pitchers, catchers, hitters, fielders and base runners; he also provides answers to such nagging questions as why spectators stretch in the seventh inning and why most ballplayers grab their crotches. He explains the difference between a change-up and a split-finger fastball, breaks down a box score and offers an extensive glossary of baseball slang that defines both a “courtesy trot” and a “dying quail.” Other sections address free agency and fair balls, umpires and uniform numbers, stadiums and superstitions. Trivia abounds, including the names of the 10 switch hitters honored in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and a record of inside-the-park homeruns. Hample hits the equivalent of a reference-book homerun with his witty, loose and readable style-taking a friendly for-a-fan-by-a-fan approach that doesn’t hide his enormous depth of knowledge. Highly recommended for baseball watchers, Hample also schools amateur players and coaches with well-illustrated examples of some complex pitching, hitting and base-running scenarios.

Instant Reply: The Green Bay Packer Diary of Jerry Kramer | In 1967, when Jerry Kramer was a thirty-one-year-old Green Bay Packers offensive lineman, in his tenth year with the team, he decided to keep a diary of the season. “Perhaps, by setting down my daily thoughts and observations,” he wrote,  “ll be able to understand precisely what it is that draws me back to professional football.  Working with the journalist Dick Schaap, Kramer recorded his day-to-day experiences as a player with perception, honesty, humor, and startling sensitivity. Little did Kramer know that the 1967 season would be one of the most remarkable in the history of pro football, culminating with the legendary championship game against Dallas now known as the Ice Bowl, in which Kramer would play a central role. Nor could he have anticipated that his diary would evolve into a book titled Instant Replay, first published in 1968, that would become a multimillion-copy bestseller and be celebrated by reviewers everywhere, including the Washington Posts Jonathan Yardley, who calls it to this day, the best inside account of pro football, indeed the best book ever written about that sport and that league.  I still remember the first time I read it. It was fantastic and is still one of my favourite books of all time.

The Game by Ken Dryden | I know I broke up with hockey last year but this was written during the golden age of hockey and the Montreal Canadiens dynasty of the 1970s.  This is a wonderful book which goes a lot deeper than so many sports autobiographies that I have read over the years.  It was named by Sports Illustrated in 2002 as one of the Top Ten in The Top 100 Best Sports Books of All Time. It was the number-one hockey book on the list. #9: “Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden was always different. A Cornell grad, he led Montreal to six Stanley Cups, then at 26 sat out a year to prepare for the bar exam. His book is different too: a well-crafted account of his career combined with a meditation on hockey’s special place in Canadian culture.” $15.61 at Amazon.com

Madden 11 | Madden NFL 11 is the 22nd version of EA Sports’ classic video game football franchise. Featuring cover athlete Drew Brees, Super Bowl XLIV MVP and quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, Madden NFL 11 incorporates a blend of simpler, quicker and deeper new features with time-tested classic features expected from a game in the Madden franchise. Features included in the PlayStation 3 version include Franchise mode, All-new GameFlow playcall system, dual stick control, extensive online functionality and more.  It now allows you to play games in half the time. With an all-new playcall system, spend less time in the huddle and more time on the field as you experience the drama and excitement of a full game in less than 30 minutes. While you are learning, you can actually win now. New Coaching Tips automatically pause the game at critical points to help explain each situation as it unfolds. A revamped playcall system draws player routes on the field as in-game coach’s audio provides helpful hints to better execute the play.

Available for PS3, Wii, PSP, and XBox at Amazon.com.  If who you are buying for is more of a NCAA fan, don’t forget NCAA Football 2011.

Harvard Action Arena 7-Foot Air Hockey Table | Tired of heading to the pub every time you want to play air hockey? Enter the Harvard Action Arena 7-foot air hockey table, which brings the same exciting, fast-paced gameplay directly into your home. Designed for four players instead of two, the Action Arena is well constructed, with sturdy 4-by-1/2-inch L-style legs, a cross bar for added stability, and a 6-1/2-inch PVC laminate apron with silver trim. More importantly, the table plays fast and fun thanks to the smooth, glossy white laminated play bed and 110-volt motor. Other features include automated puck return goals, an electronic scoring system, four striking paddles, and four pucks. $637.47 and available from Amazon.com

A smaller and less expensive air hockey table can be found here for $149.00. . Sports table includes 2 puck pushers and 2 pucks. Hockey puck easily glides across the playing surface due the table’s powerful 110v 2400 rpm heavy duty fan and air box. Manual scoring. Table dimensions: 32 inches high x 28 inches wide x 60 inches long. Includes assembly and game play instructions.

If you can find what you are looking for, make sure you check out one of the other Christmas Gift Guides

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